You are on page 1of 5

Issues_Holland

Cyberbullying

Lynn Holland July 14, 2011

Oluwa, R. (2010). Bedford Schools Approve Cyberbullying Policy, Bedford-Katonah Patch, Retrieved from http://bedford.patch.com/articles/bedford-schools-approve -cyberbullying-policy, http://www.bcsdny.org/files/policies/5300%20%20code%20of% 20conduct%20final%20revised%204-2010.pdf Policy #1 This article is about the Bedford School System adopting a Cyberbullying Policy for their schools. They had in place a bullying policy, but felt it necessary t o add cyber bullying. The policy will cover any intentional activity that is un welcome and involves repetitive physical contact, personal communication or elec tronic exchanges. The policy also covers students on the school grounds as well as on school functions, like school bus or field trips, or sports activities. T hey also included activities that would interfere with a student's ability to fu nction in school. I think there are a lot of good things in this policy. I like that it covers th e students anytime they are doing something school related in any environment be cause cyberbullying does not usually happen in the classroom. I also like that it would also include anything that would interfere with the student’s ability to function in school. I think this is so important when we have seen “hate lists” and

the like on personal social media sites that target picked on students. So thi s clause would protect all students from these inappropriate lists or emails. I also like that it states specifically that anyone is found to be in violation of these policies will be disciplined by the school district or by law enforcement . So school offices will have the opportunity to get law enforcement involved f or the protection on the harassed student, but also to get help for those who fe el that they need to bully. I really did not see weakness in the policies per say. The biggest weakness is that they are not explained or presented to teachers and parents so that it can be monitored and enforced. So many times teachers and parents don’t think this co uld happen in our schools or community until something tragic happens. Getting information in the hands of parents and teachers is key so that they know the wa rning signs to look for at school and at home. The article says they are train ing the staff but does not mention getting the word out to parents. Policy #2 Warwick School District, Student Services & Special Education, Bullying/ Cyber-B ullying Policy. Retrieved from Warwick School District website: http://www.warwi ck.k12.pa.us/orgmodule.php?deptid=107&schoolid=0007&mid=248 The Warwick School District has posted their Cyberbullying policy on their schoo l web site to inform students and parents. The policy is very thorough and goes into great detail. The web site states that it shall be the policy of the Schoo l District to maintain an educational environment in which bullying and cyber bu llying in any form are not tolerated. They spelled out very specifically the def inition of Cyberbullying, along with delegating the staff and students responsib ilities. They also included complaint procedures. It is a very detailed policy. The policy has many strengths in the way it was broken down and written with spe cific language that details what cyberbullying is and specifically includes digi tal pictures that have been associated with sexting. I feel this is so importan t because it has become a very wide spread problem in our society today. I also like they way they spell out the students and teachers responsibility in dealin g with issue, and the procedure to be followed to file a complaint. This is so important so that no problem will be missed or pushed aside which can often happ en when the process in which to handle the issue is not written out for everyone . The policy is well written and has very few weaknesses. I like that it is on th eir web site but I think that it is more important the students have the informa tion presented to them to show how important this issue is today. Because cyb erbullying is becoming such an issue today I would have liked to see more on the use of law enforcement. There is a mention that notification to the appropriat e authorities will happen if an offence happens, but I don’t feel that went far en ough. Policy #3 Wentworth School Board, Wentworth Elementary School, Bullying and Cyberbullying Policy, (pdf), Retrieved from the Wentworth Elementary School website: http://ww w.wes.sau48.org/Bullying%20and%20Cyberbullying%20Policy.pdf This is a PDF file that came from the Wentworth Elementary School web si te that states their cyberbullying policy. It is written out very clearly as to what bullying is and what actions are not allowed. It also has a very detailed account of what will happen when a complaint is filed, even specifying to the n umber of days to investigate the claim. It also states the Disciplinary Consequ ences and Intervention Programs that will take place if a student engages in cyb erbullying behavior. There is also a section on training and who will participa te. Over all I feel that the policy is very clear and easy to follow and has al l the elements of good policy. The strengths that I see in this policy is that it defines and tells stu dents and teachers what cyberbullying is and how to handle a complaint. But thi s one goes a step further in the Report Handling and Investigation section. They spell out exactly what will happen and when, down to the number of days it will take. This is very nice so parents, administrators, and students know the time

line that the investigation will take. I also like the Training section of the policy. It is very important to get this information into the hands of all who are working with students so they will be able to see the warning signs. But a lso to get this information to the students in age appropriate ways so they too have and understanding of what cyberbullying entails. The only weakness I see in the Cyberbullying policy for the Wentworth El ementary school is that they do not define bullying as fully as some of the othe r policies that I have seen. They state things fairly generically and sometimes that can lead to misinterpretation of what cyberbullying could be. It also lea ds to confusion as to what is appropriate and not appropriate in the minds of st udents. It also lacks any personal responsibility information. I feel it is im portant to tell students what your expectations of them are, not just what not t o do. My Policy The Board strives to provide a safe, positive learning climate for students in t he schools. Therefore, it shall be the policy of the School District to maintain a n educational environment in which bullying and cyber bullying in any form are n ot tolerated. 1a All forms of bullying and cyber bullying by school district students are her eby prohibited. Anyone who engages in bullying or cyber bullying in violation o f this Policy shall be subject to appropriate discipline. 1b Students who have been bullied or cyber bullied shall promptly report such i ncidents to any staff member. 1c Complaints of bullying or cyber bullying shall be investigated promptly and c orrective action shall be taken when a complaint is verified. Neither reprisals nor retaliation shall occur as a result of the submission of a complaint. 1d The School District shall annually inform students that bullying or cyber bu llying of students will not be tolerated. Definitions: 2a Bullying shall mean unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed a t a student by another student that has the effect of: 1. Physically, emotionally or mentally harming a student; 2. Damaging, extorting or taking a student’s personal property; 3. Placing a student in reasonable fear of physical, emotional or mental harm; 4. Placing a student in reasonable fear of damage to or loss of personal property; or 5. Creating an intimidating or hostile environment that substan tially interferes with a student’s educational opportunities. 2b Cyber bullying includes, but is not limited to, the following misuses of tec hnology: harassing, teasing, intimidating, threatening, or terrorizing another student or staff member by way of any technological tool, such as sending or pos ting inappropriate or derogatory email messages, instant messages, text messages , digital pictures or images, or website postings (including blogs) which has th e effect of: 1. Physically, emotionally or mentally harming a student; 2. Placing a student in reasonable fear of physical, emotional or mental harm; 3. Placing a student in reasonable fear of damage to or loss of personal property; or

4. Creating an intimidating or hostile environment that substan tially interferes with a student’s educational opportunities. 2c All forms of bullying are unacceptable and, to the extent that such action s are disruptive of the educational process of the School District, offenders sh all be subject to appropriate staff intervention, which may result in administra tive discipline. The term “bullying” and “cyber bullying” shall not be interpreted to infringe upon a stu dent’s right to engage in legally protected speech or conduct. Delegation of Responsibility: 3a Each staff member shall be responsible to maintain an educational environmen t free of bullying and cyber bullying. 3b Each student shall be responsible to respect the rights of his/her fellow st udents and to ensure an atmosphere free from all forms of bullying and cyber bul lying. 3c Students shall be encouraged to report bullying or cyber bullying complaints to any staff member. 3d Any staff member who receives a bullying or cyber bullying complaint shall g ather information or seek administrative assistance to determine if bullying or cyber bullying has occurred. If the behavior is found to meet the definition of bullying or cyber bullying, the building principal must complete the appropriat e written documentation (see bullying reporting form). 3e The building principal or his/her designee will inform the parents or guardi ans of the victim and also the parents or guardians of the accused. Disciplinary Consequences and Intervention Programs Administrators have the discretion to determine appropriate disciplinary consequ ences and/or interventions for violations of this policy based upon the relevant facts and circumstances in a particular case, including but not limited to the age and maturity of the students involved; the type and frequency of the behavio r; a student’s willingness to cooperate in the investigation and correct behavior; and the student’s prior disciplinary record. Disciplinary consequences may include detention, suspension or expulsion from sc hool. In addition, students may be required to participate in education programs , mediation, counseling and/or other programs and/or activities to address and p revent recurrence of bullying and cyberbullying behavior. Reporting Bullying and Cyberbullying Students who are subjected to bullying or cyberbullying, or who observe bullying /cyberbullying by or against other students are strongly encouraged to report it to the building principal, guidance counselor and/or teachers. School staff and volunteers are required to report possible incidents of bullyin g or cyberbullying to the building principal as soon as practicable. Parents and other adults are also encouraged to report any concerns about possible bullying or cyberbullying of students to the building principal. E. Report Handling and Investigation 1. The building administrator shall notify the parents/guardians of the alleged victim(s) and perpetrator(s) that a bullying/cyberbullying report has been made within 48 hours of the report and in accordance with applicable privacy laws. Ho wever, the building principal may request a waiver of this parent notification r equirement from the Superintendent. The Superintendent may waive parent/guardian

notification at this stage of the procedure if he/she determines this to be in the best interest of the victim(s) and/or the perpetrator(s). Any such waiver of the parent notification requirement shall be made in writing. 2. An investigation of the bullying/cyberbullying report will be initiated by th e building principal within five school days. a. The alleged perpetrator(s) will be provided the opportunity to be heard as pa rt of the investigation. b. Privacy rights of all parties shall be maintained in accordance with applicab le laws. c. The building principal shall keep a written record of the investigation proce ss. d. The building principal may take interim remedial measures to reduce the risk of further bullying/cyberbullying, retaliation and/or to provide assistance to t he alleged victim while the investigation is pending. e. The building principal shall consult with the Superintendent as appropriate c oncerning the investigation and any remedial measures or assistance provided. f. The investigation shall be completed within 21 school days of receipt of the report, if practicable. The Superintendent may grant in writing an extension of time to complete the investigation of up to 7 additional school days if necessar y. The Superintendent shall notify all parties involved of any such extension. g. If the building principal substantiates the bullying/cyberbullying report, he /she shall, in consultation with the Superintendent determine what remedial and/ or disciplinary actions should be taken against the perpetrator(s) and determine what further assistance should be provided the victim(s), if any. h. The building principal shall inform the victim(s), the perpetrator(s) and the ir parents/guardians in writing of the results of the investigation and any reme dies and/or assistance provided by the school, including strategies for protecti ng students from retaliation. Such communication shall be provided within 10 sch ool days and shall be compliance with applicable privacy laws. F. Training 1. The school administration shall provide appropriate training on this policy f or school employees, regular school volunteers and any employees of companies co ntracted to provide services directly to students. The purpose of the training i s to prevent bullying/cyberbullying if possible, and to educate staff on how to properly identify, respond to and report incidents of bullying/cyberbullying. 2. The school administration shall provide age-appropriate education programs fo r students and parents regarding this policy, bullying/cyberbullying prevention, how to identify, respond to and report bullying/cyberbullying. All training and education programs shall be initially approved by the Superinte ndent. Building administrators are responsible for scheduling the required train ing and education programs each year.